Hero/Villain Switcheroos!
November 16, 2017 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Looking for movies or other stories where the antagonist becomes the villain, the antagonist becomes the hero, but in the end work work together to save the world or help each other out in some other way?

Variations on this scenario accepted.
posted by Unsomnambulist to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by noloveforned at 4:51 PM on November 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Not exactly villain and hero (though it feels that way from one character's perspective), but Trading Places
posted by Mchelly at 4:58 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Despicable Me 3
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:07 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Magic Flute
posted by mr_roboto at 5:07 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm assuming you meant "where the protagonist becomes the villain, the antagonist becomes the hero" etc.

In the animated genre, Megamind has elements of this.

Also, if you have the time to invest in a developing storyline, The Venture Bros. starts in Season 2 to go pretty deep into the storyline of friends and foes interacting in all sorts of bizarre social ways, sometimes combining forces, sometimes fighting over the most ludicrous things.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:08 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

The graphic novel Nimona does this. At first we are rooting for the supervillain to be more villainous. Later we find out that only he can save the city. The hero is his former best friend, now archnemesis. The two have to work together to save everyone. It's all very sweet and has a lovely dragon in it.
posted by irisclara at 6:02 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

it's a book series, not a movie, but stephen donaldson's gap series is very much like this. the hero, antihero, and villain all switch places multiple times during the 5-book series to pretty extreme degrees but in ways that weave really well into the overall storyline. it's the ring cycle in space, basically.

it is, however, extremely violent and extremely seriously triggery for all kinds of really fucking bad shit.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:31 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Indeed Pluto Gangsta -- my typo!
posted by Unsomnambulist at 9:07 PM on November 16, 2017

This happens, in a way, in the video game Portal 2. Though it’s not the protagonist who becomes the villain, it’s the protagonist’s sidekick, and the protagonist (you) teams with the erstwhile antagonist to take the sidekick down.
posted by ejs at 9:23 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

This happens with a handful of characters in Homestuck, though it's generally alternate-universe-ish; a recurring theme in the story is how people are shaped by their circumstances, and how the same people being placed in different circumstances can end up being very different.
posted by divabat at 2:09 AM on November 17, 2017

Also Harry Potter relies on this for endgame, though mostly of the "villain does good" side.
posted by divabat at 2:10 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh!! Steven Universe! Especially Peridot!
posted by divabat at 2:11 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would say that this happens frequently in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series. I haven't kept up with the television show, so don't know how things have progressed or degenerated for the characters therein, but in the books, there are many characters who start out as almost cartoonishly villainous who become, if not always redeemed, per se, then at least presented with sympathetic traits. I would say that most of the ostensibly "good" characters end up doing some very morally questionable things during the course of the series, too.

Mild spoilers: I think it's really the biggest strength of that story, how Martin can make you care for someone like Jaime Lannister, a callous, incestuous aristocrat who casually drops children out of windows. And also how he can take someone like Arya Stark, who would be the plucky stand-in for young, introverted readers in another fantasy novel, but put her on a very troubling path of rage and revenge.
posted by picea at 6:17 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Superhero comics/movies are full of this kind of thing, of course.
  • The X-Men have a complicated relationship with Magneto and his group of mutants, who sometimes change sides.
  • In the new movie Thor: Ragnarok, Loki doesn't have a change of heart, but does have shared interests with Thor at the end.
In Revenge of the Jedi, Darth Vader redeems himself at the end by intervening in a fight between Luke and the Emperor to protect Luke, resulting in his own death.
posted by adamrice at 6:53 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's over the course of multiple books and I wouldn't say there are any heroes, not really, but this happens several times in Glen Cook's The Black Company series.

CW for grimdark fantasy with all that entails, including non-detailed but somewhat casual rape and lots and lots of murder.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:24 AM on November 17, 2017

Thematically similar - the video for Miike Snow's"Genghis Khan"
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:29 AM on November 17, 2017

This is kind of obscure, I think, but the Paul Verhoeven movie Flesh + Blood does this...sort of. The villain and the protagonists are defined pretty firmly at the beginning of the movie, and throughout the course of the movie their roles slide around until you feel that no one has the moral high ground. While watching the movie I turned to my friend and asked 'who's the good guy?', and he replied 'whoever's alive at the end, I guess?' It's definitely an interestingly odd film.

I would warn, however, that this movie has a graphic rape scene.
posted by DSime at 8:34 AM on November 17, 2017

The comic series Irredeemable shows the Plutonian, a Superman analogue, turning into a supervillain.

Supervillain Max Damage, kind of not knowing what to do with himself other than fight against the Plutonian, ends up becoming a good guy (mostly.) He even gets his own spin-off series, Incorruptible.
posted by bdk3clash at 8:41 AM on November 17, 2017

In ways that are not as cut and dried as you have described, the main characters in the book All the Birds in the Sky have ambiguous roles as hero/villain that intertwine throughout the book. that mystery was central to my enjoyment of it, and I think it would fit what you are looking for.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:04 AM on November 17, 2017

David J. Schow's novel The Kill Riff did this brilliantly. It's about a dad who, after his daughter gets crushed to death at rock concert, decides to get revenge by offing the band members one by one
posted by hoodrich at 5:07 PM on November 17, 2017

This is a ~ fairly trivial example, but memorable: In The Shepherd's Crown, one of the minor characters seems to be an annoying idiot, but when it comes down to the big fight, she is cool and fearless.
posted by ovvl at 7:21 PM on November 17, 2017

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